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Cheesy Rice with Broccoli and Vegan Gourmet Cheese



As many of you know, I didn’t cook much before I became vegan. Most of my meals were take-out or eaten out. When I did cook, my version of “homemade” involved a lot of boxes and envelopes. My vegetables were the frozen kind that came with the little packet of sauce. My mashed potatoes came in an envelope; just add water. And my favorite thing, the rice, came in a box where I boiled the bag and added the sauce. Mmm….cheesy rice with broccoli and by broccoli, I mean the little green specks that I suppose let them legally label it as containing a vegetable.

A few weeks ago, I had a craving for that rice. Yes, even after almost 5 years vegan, I still get cravings for the foods I used to eat. That’s ok. Cravings are ok, it’s what you do about them that matters. When I get a craving, I just make a vegan version of what I used to eat.

So I had to create my own version of cheesy rice with broccoli that would be vegan and much healthier than the old kind. This is really easy since making vegan cheese sauce is a snap…as long as you have a yummy vegan cheese. That’s where Vegan Gourmet comes in.

Vegan Gourmet is from the Follow Your Heart company. You all know Follow Your Heart – they are the makers of Veganaise, probably everyone’s 1st vegan mayo and winner of VegNews 2013 Veggie Award for Readers’ Favorite Condiment (Congrats!!!). They also make dressings, cream cheese, and specialty spreads. And vegan cheese shreds.

Vegan Gourmet Cheese Shreds come in Mozzarella, Cheddar and Fiesta Blend flavors. They are vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and non-GMO certified.


And they melt. 

That’s super-important. There are a lot of vegan cheeses out there but they don’t all melt that well. Vegan Gourmet Cheese Shreds melt beautifully and they have a real authentic taste. The Fiesta Blend tastes spicy and zesty, the Mozzarella is creamy and the Cheddar is tangy.

In addition to this recipe for cheesy rice, I used Vegan Gourmet Cheddar Shreds in my Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin that is in The “V” Word Cookbook: Holiday Edition.


But before we get to the recipe, let’s address the orangutan in the room: palm oil. Many people avoid buying products that contain palm oil because of the devastation caused by deforestation to source palm oil. Follow Your Heart has made an environmental commitment to “not use palm oil grown in any area that could negatively impact orangutans.”  They further state

Our palm oil supplier is one of the only global suppliers of organic and fully identity-preserved crude palm oil. They are a family-owned company and have never done any primary forest clearance in order to create new agricultural developments. Their palm oil farms are 100% organic and over 65% Rainforest Alliance Certified already, and they plan to be 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified also by early 2014.” 

For more information about this, read here or you can contact Follow Your Heart at


Back to the cheesy rice. It’s so simple to make. I just cooked up some brown rice, steamed a whole head of broccoli, florets and stems and made a delicious cheese sauce. It’s so quick and easy, no one should ever buy pre-made cheese sauce again. Just make a roux with flour and milk, melt in the cheese and add seasonings. That’s it.

cheesy rice and cutlets (1)

Toss it all together and you have the most decadent, creamy and satisfying dish that will take you right back to your childhood…if you ate cheesy rice in your childhood. I didn’t so for me, it takes me back to those meals I considered homemade before I knew better.

My Cheesy Rice with Broccoli is so amazing, it can be a side dish or the main dish. It’s because I can satisfy my cravings with delicious, cruelty-free options like this that I not only don’t fear my cravings, I welcome them. They lead me to be creative, resourceful and oh, so satisfied! Enjoy!

Check out the Follow Your Heart web site and “like” them on their Facebook page.


Cheesy Rice with Broccoli



GF, SF if using soy-free cheese, milk and butter


For the rice and broccoli­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

2 tsp. olive oil

½ red onion, diced

Kosher salt

2 cups brown rice

4 cups water

1 head of broccoli


For the cheese sauce­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

2 Tbs. V-Butter or vegan butter

2 Tbs. chickpea flour

2 cups non-dairy milk, warm or room temperature

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

A pinch of nutmeg

1 cup Vegan Gourmet Cheddar Shreds

1 tsp. Dijon mustard


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes until softened. Add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes until it looks chalky. Add the water, stir and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, cut the head of broccoli, both stem and florets, into bite-sized pieces. When you cut the stem, trim off the outermost layer which can be tough. Two minutes before the water is absorbed, add the broccoli to the pot with the rice to steam. Then turn off the heat and let the rice and broccoli sit in the covered pot for 10 minutes.

Heat the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Let the roux cook for 1 minute to get rid of the flour taste. Whisk in the milk and keep whisking until all of the roux is dissolved. Let it cook over medium heat. It will thicken a bit. Add salt and pepper to your taste as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Now you have a béchamel sauce.

When the béchamel sauce is thicker and hot, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir to melt the cheese and then add the mustard. Taste for seasoning.

Add the cheese sauce to the rice and broccoli. Mix well to combine. Serve while hot.

cheesy rice and cutlets (22)

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it. 




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10 Responses to Cheesy Rice with Broccoli and Vegan Gourmet Cheese

  1. Rita August 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Yeah, I’m on the same page. I don’t call myself a vegan. I have a cruelty free lifestyle. My cleaning, personal hygiene, and pet food (yeah, pet food) is all cruelty free. If you’re wondering about experiments on lab animals for your pets food do your research on Iams!!! I was shocked too!!!

    • Rhea August 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

      Yes, I was shocked when I learned about pet food too. 🙁

  2. Juju February 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Bonjour j’habite en France est ce possible de trouver ce fameux fauxmage ?
    De très belles recettes sur ce blog. Merci.

  3. Dawn December 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    This was beyond awesome. Kids absolutely devoured it.

    • Rhea December 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      I’m so glad 🙂

  4. Lindsey December 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    This looks great Rhea! I am going to make it this weekend! 🙂

    • Rhea December 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Great Lindsey. I hope you like it. xoxo

  5. DearPete December 1, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Rhea, have you ever “cheated” (hate that word)? If so, how did you handle it?

    • Rhea December 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Dear Pete,

      Cheated? No, not intentionally. I have had unintentional incidents. I once blogged about a doggie birthday cake I got Benny and didn’t realize it had yogurt in it. I once ate a salad at a restaurant and didn’t realize it had cheese in it. I once or twice missed an ingredient on a product and ended up consuming milk powder or honey, etc. Even though those incidents were accidents, I was still left with a huge sense of guilt and a feeling of being contaminated. Oh, and anger when it was the restaurant’s fault since they knew our food was supposed to be vegan.

      My personality is such that if I do something once, I will do it again. It has to be all or nothing for me. That’s why I never cut class in high school until the very last day of school. I knew I’d do it again.

      When I first became vegetarian, I was very skeptical that I could do it. I loved meat. LOVED meat. But after watching “Meet Your Meat,” I couldn’t stand being a part of the suffering. My freezer was filled with chicken breasts because chicken cutlets were my favorite food. I had to get rid of them. Now when I cook, I taste. A lot. (I was hitting 300 lbs. for a reason). My class was having a goodbye party so I made the chicken cutlets. About 40 of them. And I didn’t taste one while I made them and I didn’t taste one at the party. It was a very hard hurdle for me but I had to do it. If I had tasted one, I probably would have given up, thinking I couldn’t be meat-free.

      I know that I have no willpower when it comes to fattening foods. I can’t eat one or two chips, half an order of french fries. But I can eat none. I cheat on my diet all the time. I cheat on fattening foods. I cheat on my being gluten-free. But that’s all about me.

      But I don’t cheat on the animals. I watch videos often to keep it fresh in my mind what they go through. When we were on vacation celebrating our first anniversary, I was reading Neal Barnard’s “Breaking the Food Seduction.” I knew that when we got home, dairy and eggs were going. Eggs were really hard for me. But I keep it in my mind what the animals go through. Whenever I see something with dairy or eggs or whatever that looks really good, I just think about the animals and nothing seems worth it. I cannot and will not be a part of their suffering any longer.

      But that’s my personality. Everyone is different and going off the wagon doesn’t mean one is not meant to be vegan. It means you get back on the wagon. You think about why you went off (social situation, intense hunger, pressure, cravings, etc.) and then you plan how you will handle that situation better the next time (read the menu online and decide before you go to a restaurant and then don’t read the menu there, brings snacks with you, etc.).

      It’s not like addiction where if you have one drink, you are no longer sober. You don’t start from Day One again. You just do better the next meal. Not the next day; the next meal. And keep the animals in mind.

      I always say that if someone who wanted to eat ice cream or whatever was told, “Ok, I’ll give you the ice cream but this cow right here will have to be killed,” no one would want the ice cream anymore. That situation may not be in front of our eyes but it is true. Our choices are really life and death…for them.

      And you get support from friends, in life or on Facebook, and you just keep doing it until it’s your way of life and you would never imagine cheating again.

      I’m always here to help 🙂

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